MEPS 350:223-234 (2007)  -  doi:10.3354/meps07190

How to estimate scavenger fish abundance using baited camera data

K. D. Farnsworth1,*, U. H. Thygesen2, S. Ditlevsen3, N. J. King4

1School of Biological Science, Queens University Belfast, 97 Lisburn Road, Belfast BT9 7BL, UK
2Danmarks Fiskeriundersøgelser Afd. for Havfiskeri, Charlottenlund Slot, 2920 Charlottenlund, Denmark
3Biostatistisk Afdeling, Københavns Universitet, Øster Farimagsgade 5, Opgang B, Postboks 2099, 1014 Copenhagen, Denmark
4Oceanlab, University of Aberdeen, Main Street, Newburgh, Aberdeenshire AB41 6AA, UK

ABSTRACT: Baited cameras are often used for abundance estimation wherever alternative techniques are precluded, e.g. in abyssal systems and areas such as reefs. This method has thus far used models of the arrival process that are deterministic and, therefore, permit no estimate of precision. Furthermore, errors due to multiple counting of fish and missing those not seen by the camera have restricted the technique to using only the time of first arrival, leaving a lot of data redundant. Here, we reformulate the arrival process using a stochastic model, which allows the precision of abundance estimates to be quantified. Assuming a non-gregarious, cross-current-scavenging fish, we show that prediction of abundance from first arrival time is extremely uncertain. Using example data, we show that simple regression-based prediction from the initial (rising) slope of numbers at the bait gives good precision, accepting certain assumptions. The most precise abundance estimates were obtained by including the declining phase of the time series, using a simple model of departures, and taking account of scavengers beyond the camera’s view, using a hidden Markov model.

KEY WORDS: Deep sea · Coryphaenoides · Lander · Hidden Markov model · Population · Wildlife census

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Cite this article as: Farnsworth KD, Thygesen UH, Ditlevsen S, King NJ (2007) How to estimate scavenger fish abundance using baited camera data. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 350:223-234

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